Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

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Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby frezik » Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:03 pm UTC

A couple were working on a large helium balloon project when their six year old son climbed aboard and undid the anchor. The balloon has now landed without the son on board.

Remember, if you're the type to do glass necklace-like projects, be careful. They're worth doing, but there is danger involved. I would hate for this and other such incidents to put a halt on all these cool projects out there.
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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby Freakish » Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:06 pm UTC

My guess is that he untied the balloon and then hid.
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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby tzvibish » Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:23 pm UTC

Update: News Stations are reporting that witnesses saw something fall out of the balloon while it was in the air. Let's all hope it was not the child jumping out of fear (It gives me the chills just saying it).
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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby JBJ » Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:57 pm UTC

Does the family know how much weight that balloon could carry? A helium balloon can lift about .05 to .06 lbs per cubic foot. The report says it's 20 feet long by 5 feet high. I can't tell from the pictures if it is elliptical or spherical. Still, I don't think that it would be more than 1,000 to 1,500 cu ft, so max it should be able to lift would be around 90 lbs. A 6 year old is around 50-60 lbs. With the extra weight of the basket, I can't see this thing carrying him up to those altitudes.
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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby Dauric » Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:59 pm UTC

Article says "Dome Shaped", at a guess I'd say circle cross-sectioned with an elipse.

We've got some pretty wicked winds today too.
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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby Dobblesworth » Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:56 pm UTC

The kid's name is/was Falcon. That's awesome enough for me to pray he made it out OK. But I fear the worst. Gravity and 6000ft descent are not the best of friends.

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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby scrovak » Thu Oct 15, 2009 10:22 pm UTC

I'm not sure where I stand on this, but deep down, I'm baying with laughter while on the surface nodding out of concern for the kid, while somewhere else I'm wondering what the hell was going through his mind
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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby Internetmeme » Thu Oct 15, 2009 10:29 pm UTC

Dobblesworth wrote:The kid's name is/was Falcon. That's awesome enough for me to pray he made it out OK. But I fear the worst. Gravity and 6000ft descent are not the best of friends.

Ummm,
The 6-year-old Colorado boy who is believed to have set adrift a helium balloon Thursday, prompting ground and air searches, has been found alive, authorities said.He was found in a box in the attic at his family's Fort Collins home, according to authorities.


I think something like this happened:

1.He undid the balloon to see it fly.
2.He has an "Oh, Shit!" moment when he realizes he'll be in big trouble.
3.He goes and hides in the attic to avoid getting in trouble.
4.He hears someone coming up and he decides to try hiding in a box.
5.He is found when someone hears a noise in the box.
Spoiler:

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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby Cynical Idealist » Thu Oct 15, 2009 10:34 pm UTC

Internetmeme wrote:
Dobblesworth wrote:The kid's name is/was Falcon. That's awesome enough for me to pray he made it out OK. But I fear the worst. Gravity and 6000ft descent are not the best of friends.

Ummm,
The 6-year-old Colorado boy who is believed to have set adrift a helium balloon Thursday, prompting ground and air searches, has been found alive, authorities said.He was found in a box in the attic at his family's Fort Collins home, according to authorities.


The article has been repeatedly updated as new information became available. Dobblesworth's post probably came before that information was in the article.
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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby The Reaper » Thu Oct 15, 2009 10:50 pm UTC

Cynical Idealist wrote:
Internetmeme wrote:
Dobblesworth wrote:The kid's name is/was Falcon. That's awesome enough for me to pray he made it out OK. But I fear the worst. Gravity and 6000ft descent are not the best of friends.

Ummm,
The 6-year-old Colorado boy who is believed to have set adrift a helium balloon Thursday, prompting ground and air searches, has been found alive, authorities said.He was found in a box in the attic at his family's Fort Collins home, according to authorities.


The article has been repeatedly updated as new information became available. Dobblesworth's post probably came before that information was in the article.

This story..... reminds me of something.... involving a well......

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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby PhoenixEnigma » Thu Oct 15, 2009 11:43 pm UTC

The Reaper wrote:This story..... reminds me of something.... involving a well......


My first thought was a boy in a barrel. Both situations can be resolved with ferrets with wings, too!
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balloon boy was actually in attic. Possible hoax?

Postby sje46 » Fri Oct 16, 2009 8:01 am UTC

http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/10/15/colorado.boy.balloon/index.html

Spoiler:
(CNN) -- After scouring northern Colorado by foot and air, frantically chasing a Mylar balloon for miles and repeatedly interviewing his big brother, authorities ended the search for 6-year-old Falcon Heene where it began -- at his house.
6-year-old Falcon Heene says he was hiding in a box in the attic while authorities were searching for him.

He was in a box. In the attic. The whole time.

"I played with my toys and took a nap," Falcon told a group of reporters outside his home Thursday afternoon.

"He says he was hiding in the attic," said Falcon's father, meteorologist Richard Heene, clutching his son. "He says it's because I yelled at him."

"I'm sorry I yelled at him," added Heene, tearfully hugging the boy.

In a later interview with CNN's "Larry King Live," Falcon said he heard his parents call for him from the garage.

When asked by his father on-air why he didn't respond, the boy replied, "You guys said we did this for the show."

When the father was pressed by Wolf Blitzer, who was filling in for King, to explain what his son meant, he became uncomfortable, finally saying he was "appalled" by the questions, and then adding that Falcon was likely referring to all the media coverage. Video Watch the Heenes talk about the ordeal on CNN's Larry King Live »

Authorities said they believe the case was genuine.


The situation grabbed the nation's attention early Thursday afternoon, after authorities reported that the experimental helium balloon was set adrift with the 6-year-old apparently riding in it.

Heene said the family was in the early stages of working on the balloon -- a "3D low-altitude vehicle" -- when the contraption and the boy went missing.

His brother had said he watched Falcon get into the balloon before he untied the tethers, setting it free. Heene later said Falcon was videotaped getting into the vessel by his brother, but "obviously he got out."

Once it was untethered, the saucer-like craft flew eastward from the Heenes' neighborhood, though officials couldn't immediately confirm how fast it was going. Video Watch the balloon float thousands of feet over Colorado »

Authorities said the silver balloon, 20-feet long and 5-feet high, at times reached 7,000 feet above the ground while adrift. It was found more than 90 minutes later in a field near Colorado Springs.

The story took a turn when ABC said that Falcon's parents, science enthusiasts Richard and Mayumi Heene, were featured on the 100th episode of ABC's prime-time program "Wife Swap" in March 2009.

According to the network's Web site, the Heene family "devote(s) their time to scientific experiments that include looking for extraterrestrials and building a research-gathering flying saucer to send into the eye of the storm."

Richard Heene is a meteorologist and former television weatherman who has submitted to CNN iReports accounts of his sons helping him chase Hurricane Gustav, among other contributions. iReport.com: Heene family chases a storm

Rescuers from several counties followed the saucer-like vessel until it made a soft landing some 90 miles away.

Officials rushed to the scene of the landing, smacking the metallic balloon until it deflated. They looked inside -- no Falcon.

At that point, there were two possibilities: Either Falcon never got in the balloon, or he fell out.

Authorities began to fear the worst after reports surfaced that a box possibly carrying Falcon may have fallen off the balloon.

A Weld County Sheriff's deputy had said he saw an object fall off the balloon somewhere over Platteville, Colorado, which is in the search area. There was no box attached when the balloon landed at 1:35 p.m. See map of balloon's trip »

The widespread worries prompted the Colorado Air National Guard to deploy a UH 60 Black Hawk helicopter, with plans to launch a second one equipped with night vision if necessary.

The search, which initially focused on Weld County, covered "the entire flight plan, from the Fort Collins area down to the Denver International Airport area," Col. Mark Riccardi said.

But a little while later, Falcon turned up at home.

Larimer County Sheriff James Alderden said it's not uncommon for children to seek cover when they realize they're the subject of a massive search.

"They hide because they think they are in trouble," he said.

"What was confusing was the eyewitness who said [Falcon] climbed into the apparatus, which was not the case," Alderden said, referring to the boy's brother.

The sheriff said the brother was interviewed several times by investigators and that he was consistent with his story.

Marc Friedland, the family's next-door neighbor, said he saw Richard Heene working on the giant Mylar balloon in the backyard. Learn more about airborne balloons »

"Basically, the whole family was out there and they were working with it," he said. "When I came back is when I found out that the event happened."

He said the aircraft was intended to hover around 20 feet in the air and was not intended to carry people.

"Obviously, something went wrong with that."

Friedland described his neighbors as "a great family."
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"They're unusual, yes, of course. He's sort of a scientist-slash-inventor. They're storm chasers -- they go after tornadoes, hurricanes, things like that," he said.

"He's a great kid," Friedland said of Falcon. "We see him a lot and they come over and they're always friendly."


Pretty much, the thought the boy went into a basket under a balloon, which lifted off, and they thought he fell down. He was actually in the attic.

So the family was on CNN tonight, with Wolf "The Wolf" Blitzer, when the boy made a little slip-up.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wI6UONWCq7A

And ten minutes later Blitz follows up. The father explodes:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxtFXtiUbbw

A lot of folk on Reddit are saying that Blitz is a horrible journalist, when I think he went as far as necessary. What do you think?
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Re: balloon boy was actually in attic. Possible hoax?

Postby fyrenwater » Fri Oct 16, 2009 10:25 am UTC

The family was on Wife Swap before. I think it might be some publicity whoring going on here...
...It made more sense in my head.

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Re: balloon boy was actually in attic. Possible hoax?

Postby sje46 » Fri Oct 16, 2009 10:35 am UTC

fyrenwater wrote:The family was on Wife Swap before. I think it might be some publicity whoring going on here...


Here is Falcon covered in chocolate and sitting in a toilet (Mr. Hanky) in their family's "Not Pussified" video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBWJXXgaYBo&#t=1m03s
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Re: balloon boy was actually in attic. Possible hoax?

Postby Sockmonkey » Fri Oct 16, 2009 2:10 pm UTC

I doubt the baloon was even large enough to lift a child. Had anyone bothered to calculate it they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble.

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Re: balloon boy was actually in attic. Possible hoax?

Postby Briareos » Fri Oct 16, 2009 2:23 pm UTC

Sockmonkey wrote:Had anyone bothered to calculate it they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble.
Applying this rule at all times would solve a lot of problems in life. Calculate, calculate!
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Re: balloon boy was actually in attic. Possible hoax?

Postby Dauric » Fri Oct 16, 2009 3:22 pm UTC

I saw part of an interview with the parents last night (It was impossible not to, by the divine did NOTHING else happen anywhere? The Stock Market just came to an utter close because of this, ad the Afghan war had a Christmas Peace just in support of the kid. It's a conspiracy to drag our attention away from the next round of banking bonus checks.... )

Ahem...

Anyway, one reporter asked him something about what the balloon was for, and he had some response about the skin generating terrawatts of power through <indecipherable> plasma something.... And as he spoke he kind of trailed off as if he knew he sounded like an idiot. A reporter asked if he'd been published, but I didn't recognize the publication he cited (maybe that was the sound-operator's fault, the sound quality was really poor).
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Re: balloon boy was actually in attic. Possible hoax?

Postby Spacemilk » Fri Oct 16, 2009 8:37 pm UTC

Did anyone else think of the XKCD boy, or the Little Prince? For some reason this news story reminded me of that... anyway I am just happy he was ok. Quite honestly, if people didn't worry so much about whether this was meant as an attention-grabber, the story would get a LOT less attention. It's ironic that we're giving them something that we're suspicious they want.

Dauric wrote:Anyway, one reporter asked him something about what the balloon was for, and he had some response about the skin generating terrawatts of power through <indecipherable> plasma something.... And as he spoke he kind of trailed off as if he knew he sounded like an idiot. A reporter asked if he'd been published, but I didn't recognize the publication he cited (maybe that was the sound-operator's fault, the sound quality was really poor).

When I did research on chemical-engineering-ish things in college, I'd come home and people would ask me about it. When I'd launch excitedly into my explanation, I'd realize two things about five words in: (a) None of the words I was using made any sense to the people I was talking to because they'd never had any reason to learn them, and I couldn't think of better words; and (b) their eyes were glazing over. By the time I was 10 words in, I was stumbling and muttering and eventually I'd just trail off. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt, but if I had to guess, it may be because he hasn't had many opportunities to describe his work to laymen.
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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby The Reaper » Sun Oct 18, 2009 12:17 am UTC

http://gawker.com/5383858/exclusive-i-h ... lloon-hoax
For the first time, 25-year-old researcher Robert Thomas reveals to Gawker how earlier this year he and Richard Heene drew up a master plan to generate a massive media controversy using a weather balloon. To get famous, of course.

Thomas spent several months earlier this year working on developing a reality science TV show to pitch to networks — the "show," Thomas says, that Falcon was referring to when he told CNN "We did it for the show." Among the ideas that Heene, Thomas and two others came up with for their reality TV proposal — and one that he says most intrigued Heene — involved a weather balloon modified to look like a UFO which they would launch in an attempt to drum up media interest in both the Heene family and the series he was desperate to get on the air. Still, Thomas never imagined that Heene would involve his six-year-old son in what he is certain was a "global media hoax" to further Richard Heene's own celebrity. Thomas' story of his time with Heene, based on an interview with Ryan Tate, follows below. It's a fascinating account and after he publicly offered to sell his story, we paid him for it.
Oh joy.

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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby Cynical Idealist » Sun Oct 18, 2009 1:24 am UTC

Sheriff: Charges to be filed in balloon saga
FORT COLLINS. Colo. - A Colorado sheriff said late Saturday that criminal charges are expected to be filed in the flight of a saucer-like helium balloon that led to a frantic search for a 6-year-old boy believed to be on board —and then to questions about whether the drama had been a hoax.

Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said significant progress had been made in the investigation and that at least Class 3 misdemeanor charges were likely. Alderden said he was consulting with the Federal Aviation Administration and othe federal agencies on whether other chargers were warranted.

The day's drama included voluntary trips by the boy's parents to the sheriff's office. The sheriff said Richard and Mayumi Heene were not under arrest.
(the rest is a summary of the situation)
Since this seems to have become the official Balloon Boy Thread (since the thread about it being a hoax got merged), I'll just leave this here.
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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby Spacemilk » Mon Oct 19, 2009 3:41 pm UTC

They're considering pressing charges. The sheriff believes he has enough evidence to show that the whole thing was a hoax. Sigh.

Text:
Spoiler:
Reporting from Fort Collins, Colo. - A runaway balloon purportedly holding a 6-year-old boy was actually a publicity stunt intended to get the family a reality-television show, but instead could result in felony charges, authorities said Sunday.

Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said at a news conference that the boy's parents, Richard and Mayumi Heene, had planned the charade for at least two weeks before launching the homemade balloon Thursday. Alderden said his office was likely to recommend that the parents be charged with felonies.

He said they may have had help, even from some entertainment media.

"There is absolutely no doubt in our minds that this was a hoax," said Alderden, who had defended the family until his office interviewed the Heenes over the weekend.

The Heenes have not been arrested and have insisted they perpetrated no hoax.

On Sunday, a reporter from the Associated Press confronted them as they shopped at a local Wal-Mart. The AP reported that Richard Heene teared up and said the family was "seeking counsel."

"This thing has become so convoluted," he told the AP.

Later Sunday, David Lane, a Colorado 1st Amendment attorney, said in a statement that the Heenes had retained him and that he had advised them to turn themselves in and to stop talking to the media.

Suspicions coalesce

Thursday's search for the balloon and its supposed passenger, Falcon, riveted the nation for hours. Another Heene boy said he saw his brother crawl into the balloon's basket before it launched.

The contraption, put together with cardboard, plywood and duct tape, sailed for 50 miles, shutting down flights at Denver International Airport, leading the Air National Guard to mobilize and making the family a media sensation.

But after the spaceship-shaped balloon landed -- empty -- in a field 50 miles away, Falcon turned up safe at home. He said he had hidden in the garage because his father was angry at him for playing with the balloon.

The sheriff said at the time that he believed the Heenes. But skepticism grew in the neighborhood and the media.

On "Larry King Live" Thursday night, Falcon was asked why he had stayed in hiding so long. Falcon turned to his parents, saying: "You said we were doing this for a show."

Alderden described that statement as "our first 'aha' moment."

The sheriff said he acted as if he continued to believe the Heenes to lure them into agreeing to separate interviews, a polygraph exam and, he hoped, a confession. On Saturday, Richard and Mayumi Heene and their children were questioned separately.

Alderden noted that Colorado law prevents him from confirming lie detector tests or confessions, but he said he had enough evidence to say the event was a hoax.

"They put on a very good show for us and we bought it," Alderden said, noting that Richard and Mayumi Heene are trained actors.

The couple, amateur scientists and storm chasers, have twice appeared on the ABC reality show "Wife Swap" -- in which spouses trade places for two weeks -- and had discussed a reality show with the production company of that show.

Alderden said a search of the Heene house Saturday night found documents confirming they were still hoping for a reality show.

"If something like that was going to happen, there needed to be a spark," Alderden said.

The sheriff said the three Heene sons, ages 6, 8 and 10, were "100%" involved in the hoax but probably would not face charges because of their ages. Instead, the sheriff's department has asked social workers to determine whether it's safe for the children to remain in their parents' custody.

Possible charges

Richard and Mayumi Heene are likely to face felony charges of conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and attempting to influence a public official, Alderden said. They could also face one misdemeanor of making a false report, he said.

The felonies carry maximum penalties of six years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

The Heenes also could be billed for the rescue operation, which included the sheriff's departments of three counties, two Air National Guard helicopters and the rerouting of flights from Denver International Airport.

Authorities have not tallied those costs.

Alderden said a bill could be futile, however, given the family's apparently weak financial condition.

"I don't think there's much to recover at this point," he said, noting that Richard Heene, the apparent breadwinner, works as a part-time, self-employed tile-layer.

He added that Richard Heene, despite his scientific experiments, had only a high school education. "He may be nutty," Alderden said, "but he's not a professor."

Alderden said he thinks it's unlikely the Heenes will serve prison time, given that this apparently would be their first offense and that Colorado, amid a severe budget crunch, is releasing even violent offenders early from prison.

He did say, however, that his agency was concerned about possible violence from Richard Heene against the household. Investigators unsuccessfully tried to persuade Mayumi Heene to stay at a safe house Saturday night, the sheriff said.

Earlier this year, deputies responding to a 911 call found Mayumi bearing possible signs of physical abuse, but she said nothing was wrong. On "Wife Swap," Richard Heene demonstrated a volcanic temper and said that he was descended from aliens.

Beyond the Heenes

Alderden said his agency would continue to investigate suggestions, many from Internet rumors, that others were involved in the hoax.

He said he wanted to talk to a former assistant to the family, Robert Thomas, who wrote on the Gawker website Saturday that Richard Heene had discussed a "stunt" with a UFO-shaped device to garner publicity.

"There's a pretty clear indication from what we've seen so far that there are others who had planned a publicity stunt involving a spaceship," Alderden said.

The sheriff speculated that some members of the entertainment media could have been involved. At least one show, he said, had already paid the Heenes since the balloon launch. He refused to identify it.

Alderden ended his news conference by saying that he would have no more statements to the media and that he hoped the furor surrounding the family would die down. He acknowledged, however, that the case was one of the more unusual ones he has seen.

"On the bizarre meter," he said, "this rates a 10."
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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby Kizyr » Mon Oct 19, 2009 5:30 pm UTC

Falcon wrote:You guys said we did it for the show...

Oh, God bless kids and their occasional unintended honesty.

I do like how this thread traces the entire story from start to finish: the initial missing-kid report, finding him in the attic, then it turning out to be a hoax.

Also, is anyone else surprised (although refreshed) by the Sheriff readily admitting that they'd erred when believing the Heenes in the first place? Maybe I'm just too used to people trying to cover up their mistakes... KF
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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby Garm » Mon Oct 19, 2009 7:42 pm UTC

The kid will probably be disowned at the earliest convenient moment. "Damnit! You blew Daddy's big moment, kid."

Poor Fort Collins, all the weirdos are moving up there instead of coming to Boulder or Nederland.
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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby Dauric » Mon Oct 19, 2009 7:57 pm UTC

Garm wrote:The kid will probably be disowned at the earliest convenient moment. "Damnit! You blew Daddy's big moment, kid."

Poor Fort Collins, all the weirdos are moving up there instead of coming to Boulder or Nederland.


We're going to have to empty out the Republic of Boulder, It's got so many crazies they're spilling out.
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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby Garm » Mon Oct 19, 2009 8:03 pm UTC

Usually Ward or Nederland take the bleed off. Boulder doesn't have many true crazies, just a variety of hippieish weirdos and a bunch of annoying rich people (the type that call the cops on you for having a picnic). Most of the really eccentric people go elsewhere. Apparently Fort Collins now. :)
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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby Vaniver » Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:29 pm UTC

I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

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Spacemilk
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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby Spacemilk » Tue Oct 20, 2009 5:15 pm UTC


That was quite sketchy, but the Meredith Vierra incident is orders of magnitude worse in my opinion, at least as far as it pertains to the point the author is trying to make. She had no facial or vocal reaction at all... was she unable to see or hear the kid? What the hell was going on with that?

Also it kinda disgusts and angers me that the father - while he at least ACKNOWLEDGED that his kid was puking in his lap - didn't ask to stop the interview long enough to make sure the child was comfortable and all right. In fact for half a second he seems to close his eyes as if he is frustrated that his child is sick... what the fuck?!
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Re: Cool Projects Gone Horribly Wrong

Postby Weaver » Wed Oct 21, 2009 7:02 pm UTC

For a short while I was very concerned over this story ...

I thought Michael Jackson had ordered take-out. :twisted:


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